Beastie Boys Defeat Monster In $1.7M Infringement Suit

The Beastie Boys won a lawsuit against Monster Beverage, makers of Monster Energy drinks, over the use of their music by the brand in material considered promotional.

The Beastie Boys’ have been dragged into the public sphere over the use of their iconic tracks in advertisements and other material implying endorsement in recent months. Before the Monster suit, the surviving members were forced to strike back against another brand using their music in ads.

GoldieBlox, a maker of female-empowerment branded toys, parodied the Beastie Boys hit “Girls,” off the album License To Ill, late last year. When Mike D and Ad-Rock asked why the brand used the song without permission, GoldieBlox sued the remaining members of the band (third member MCA died in 2012 of a rare form of cancer) for the right to use the track.

The suit was settled earlier this year.

According to Pitchfork, the Beastie Boys objected to a number of instances of the use of their music and likeness by Monster:

“The Beastie Boys’ lawsuit against Monster Energy Drink was initiated in 2012 after the company included parts of the Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage,’ ‘So What’cha Want,’ ‘Make Some Noise’ and ‘Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun’ on a promotional video on their website. They also allegedly included a 23-minute medley of Beastie Boys songs made available for download as an MP3. As Rolling Stone reports, the songs were taken from footage of a live set by DJ Z-Trip at the Canadian festival ‘Ruckus in the Rockies,’ which was sponsored by Monster and held only a few days after Adam Yauch died in May of that year.”

After the GoldieBlox video and subsequent legal claim by the brand went viral, Mike D and Ad-Rock revealed that a condition of the last will and testament of Adam Yauch (MCA) stipulated that the group’s work never be used commercially.

Reportedly, the Beastie Boys sued for $2.5 million for copyright infringement and false endorsement damages, explaining:

“The public was confused into believing that the plaintiffs sponsored, endorsed and are associated with defendant Monster in promoting defendant Monster’s productions and promotional events.”

Monster defended using the Beastie Boys’ music and said that the band’s claim was “illogical,” countering that $175,000 is the most they should owe the group for the miscommunication. Representatives for the company admit that the material was used in error by an employee who believed that the move was legally permissible.

The Beastie Boys won $1.7 million in the suit, and during the course of testimony, Mike D revealed that it is unlikely the group will release material following MCA’s death.

[Image: Beastie Boys, CC]